There are few out there that have contributed more to creative wakeskating than Tad Mathews. Over 5 years ago his full-length movie “More than Machines” revolutionized what the wakeskate movie truly could be. Following his great success with MTM Mathews filmed and directed Remote Wakeskate’s team video “Good Ratio”, in addition to helping produce Water Monster’s team video “Human Rocket” the very same year. He co-founded one of the first wakeskate only magazines that went to print. This work horse doesn’t stop and his already lengthy resume keeps getting longer. This past year he collaborated on Nike’s “Thank You” video perfectly capturing the adventurous spirit of wakeskating. To this day Mathews is still surprising all of us with different new and unique pieces. We can’t wait to see what this gifted mind can do with Istudiomo.
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Can you give a quick rundown of your gear and what you have been shooting with these days?
I shoot with a few film cameras and a Canon 6D. I don’t really have that much stuff.. a janky tripod and a few macgyver gadgets.
What is your favorite facet of wakeskating to shoot? Chase sets? Winch missions? Cable days?
There’s nothing better than a road trip with your friends in a vehicle packed with the essentials. Drifting around shooting new spots everyday is the best.
You recently went on an explorative trip just like that last year for Nike’s Wakeskating trip around Oregon making the “Thank You” video. That video gave the community a glimpse into a wanderlustful future for wakeskating. It showed the adventurous side of wakeskating like many pieces before it but in a way that has never been done before. The video forged its own path in uncharted territory and out into the wild unknown. How was that experience? Do you have any stories from that trip up in the northwest?
That was a badass experience for sure. We didn’t get kicked out of a single spot and everyone was killing it. There was a lot of preparation beforehand that made for a pretty laid back excursion. It was rad to just loop around the whole state of Oregon and not stay in one spot for more than a day or two. The camping and scenery is unreal out there. Tons of good stories but the topping on the cake was Ron’s brakes going out on the last day driving on a two-lane bridge. We got into a 3-way fender bender. Everyone was ok and we ended up hitting a burrito joint while we waited for the tow truck. It was a crazy way to end the trip.
You worked in collaboration with Aaron Pastura on the “Thank You” video. With your combined efforts the video turned out to be one of the best exhibitions of wakeskating in quite a while. Was this your first collaboration? Did you enjoy it? Do you find collaborations have more to offer than working by yourself on a project?
Ron and I filmed Human Rocket together but this was our first collaboration where we both worked on the edit. It was rad. I’m always down to team up with Ron. He’s a really talented photographer and kills it on video too. We stay out of each others way and we know how to communicate. Collaborating with dudes that know their shit is always fun. I feel it allows you to get more creative with your shots knowing that there’s another good angle rolling. Two minds will always be better than one.
What were some wakeskating videos from your past that were a big influence on you to create your own? What about them were so meaningful?
My good friend Kyle [McCutcheon] let me borrow his video collection when I first got into wakeskating. I thought all of the videos were sick because I just enjoyed watching wakeskating. Danny’s part in Pre Pop used to get me hyped up and we watched Asterisk a shit ton. Sfumato is classic but, In It’s Travels was it for me. I watched that video a thousand times. I felt like that was when dudes started to show the versatility of the wakeskate. I was hyped on anything Kyle and the Homeless dudes were doing and anything Scene One [Productions] was putting out.
You produced, directed, and filmed arguably the most successful and progressive wakeskate film of all time ‘More than Machines’. What was your mindset when making that film? What was a big hurdle you needed to overcome to make that film what it was?
I honestly wasn’t thinking that deep into it. It always felt like a mellow project to us. We weren’t saying “this video is going to be a game-changer” and I didn’t know how good it was until everyone’s reaction at the premiere. That night was the best. A lot of people came together to make that project happen. I can only take a small fraction of the credit to that being the best video or whatever. Wakeskating was getting weird that year, everyone was doing crazy shit. I don’t think we had any hurdles, we were really just splashing around. My computer crashed like two days before the premiere but Stu [Shinn] let me borrow his to finish the edit!
MTM sported a pretty catchy soundtrack. Music in a project is an interesting aspect of a film it can in some cases make or break a part. A lot of the tracks featured in your first full-length film still get played a lot to this day at the tour stops and during winch sessions. It’s no surprise when you hear one of the tracks start playing that its a direct homage to MTM. What is your take on music in your videos? How do you choose what music you use? And what role does it play in your editing process?
I just put together playlists in advance with anything I’m feeling at the time. I’ll throw down footage and watch it over and over with different songs. There is definitely a thought process that goes on in my head and it has a lot to do with the timing I prefer. Everyone has different editing styles and I think it’s all about syncing that up with a track that flows.
That film (MTM) had a huge list of riders that all brought their very best. Who are some of your favourite riders to work with?
Crazy Chris [Chris Zachary], Kyle Walton, Austin & Andrew [Pastura], Nick [Taylor], Brick Rob [Nick Robinson], he’s a beast. Ollie [Moore], Ben [Horan], Yan [Lecomte]! Trav Doran goes bigger than anyone. [Travis] Belsito, Hooks [Matt Hooker], T.J. [Giesey], Bammer [Rehn], Keaton [Bowlby], [Brandon] Rau, Schwallz [Jordan Schwaller], Reed [Hansen], Marc [Marcus Knox], JZ [Josh Zentmeyer], Danny [Hampson], [Andrew] Fortenberry, Stu [Shinn]! This is weird. It’s impossible to pick favorites. I suck at this.
You filmed a good number of those dudes you just listed during The Wakeskate Tour’s Spring Training this year. What was it like having such a huge crew of rippers packed together in a place like CWC (Camsur Watersports Complex) in the Philippines?
It was wild dude. I actually wasn’t filming there though, I was brought out to shoot photos. It was rad having such a big crew because people could split off and shoot the full cable and the other half could go session one of the drops. Everywhere you looked someone was doing something crazy. The level of riding was unreal. Everyone killed it out there. Wish Yan could have made it!
So you were brought out to CWC to take mostly photos of the crew out there. Most most filmers dabble in still shooting, but you appear to have a natural talent for it. What is it about photography that has become such a passion for you? What has influenced you to evolve your photography?
I honestly just like experimenting with all kinds of cameras. I work at a camera shop full-time and it’s really got me hooked on photography. I’m always itching to learn more and feed off others around me who share the same passion. Ian Reid has been a huge influence on my photography over the years. He has taught me a lot and I’m really thankful to have friends like him and Ron to collaborate with and learn from. Dudes got press passes, you know they are legit.
Undoubtedly you have a great deal of passion for wakeskating. You have put in the time and the work for wakeskating for a long time now. What has kept you in it for so long? What keeps you in it as a filmer, as a photographer?
Everyone involved. The experiences, the family reunions that are supposed to be contests, the trips, and the friends I’ve made along the way.
Wakeskating video content these days are being reduced down to short instagram videos and contest recaps. It seems these days we are lucky to get a full production part once a year. Do you fear for the creative side of wakeskating?
I fear that the full-length is close to being a thing of the past. But wakeskaters are never going to stop being creative. They are just going to get more creative in 15 seconds [laughs]. I’m old school so I’m not a fan of it. It all seems lazy to me. It’s near impossible to sit on footage. Dude, I saw Reed Hansen do a 360 heelflip on Instagram. Stuff like that used to be saved for video parts!
There has been a surge in use of GoPros in Wakeskating. What is your take on this camera?
Gopro’s are badass man. They are perfect for filming doubles. You really can’t beat it for the price because water housings for a DSLR are pretty damn expensive. But damn these cameras are turning everyone into selfie queens. Film yourself, watch footage of yourself, post a million instagrams of yourself, like your own photos, go to sleep by yourself, spooning your selfie stick. [Laughs] I’m just joking around but seriously.. chill. Your whole life doesn’t need to be an autobiography. Just get out there and live mannnnn.
Slo-mo or no slo-mo?
I don’t mind it but it starts to lose its substance when it’s overused.
Quad and Octocopters are gaining some momentum in filming Wakeskating. What are your thoughts on them?
I’ll take one of each. I heard the battery life on those suck though so I might just save up for a real chopper and hire Reed Watson to fly it around while we film MTM2.
Who is someone that is not filmed very often you wish you would want to work with?
Thomas Horrell! Or what about Raven? I hope he’s still ripping. I really miss the Party Edit Crew. Frye shreds.
Do you have any pieces of wisdom for the aspiring wakeskating filmers and photographers out there?
Shoot your friends, not yourself. Do it for fun and invest in a big ass hat.
What are you expecting from Istudiomo?
A full part from Nick Robinson. Fuck ya.
Photography by Ian Reid, Tad Mathews, and Andrew Roehm
Cinematography by Tad Mathews and Aaron Pastura